Beautiful Agony: The New Naked
Why are we so afraid of the word "pornography"? How come we hesitate to call something beautiful and so real that it borders on the metaphysical pornographic?
Beautiful Agony Stages
Picture a man or woman wrestling with their thoughts, desires, and fantasies, shedding all their bullshit, stripping away all their inhibitions, closing their eyes, remembering a sexual experience that's unique only to them, panting, whimpering, mumbling under their breath, on the verge of critical mass.
Explosion, and then the orgasm happens, like an atomic bomb, hot and reverberating through your extremities. Your eyes become vacant and glassy, your identity dissolves, and suddenly, you've disappeared into a vast, dark sea of pleasure, like sleep, free of psychological burdens and social boundaries, floating.
Some smoke, some laugh, some talk, some think, some rest. Not a moment ago we had vanished, and now we're back, breathing oxygen, hushed, giddy. Somehow we've managed to cheat this little death, as the French euphemism goes. What better time to celebrate life? What better moment to rejuvenate the spirit?
Is Beautiful Agony porn or erotica?
Webster's defines pornography as "material that depicts erotic behavior intended to cause sexual excitement or arouse a quick intense emotional reaction", which definitely encompasses Beautiful Agony, yet this subscriber is hesitant to assign such a mainstream and corrupt stigma as porn to their website.
Much pornography (not all) has been so graphic, so demeaning, so exploitative, and so utterly tasteless that it now resembles a bad joke involving a naïve woman short on cash. As Lawrence himself says, "The porn industry is hopelessly out of touch with its audience", which is another way of saying, they simply don't know what gets our rocks off anymore, namely reality.
What's different about Beautiful Agony is that the sexual content is instinctive and real, which would suggest that it's more erotica than pornography, and yet watching the videos definitely elicits an intense emotional reaction that is sexual in nature.
But why are we so afraid of the word "pornography"? How come we hesitate to call something beautiful and so real that it borders on the metaphysical pornographic? Of course we want reality, of course we want an erotic experience that reminds us that human beings long for touch, perhaps even our touch. Already described as hardcore without nudity, what's so wrong with calling Beautiful Agony pornographic?
The only reason not to label Lawrence's website as pornography is how the content arouses us. Instead of hopelessly trying to imagine ourselves in the absurd sexual scenes indicative of traditional pornography, Beautiful Agony removes us from the scene altogether, revealing otherness, another person, pleasing themselves without us, which as it turns out can be sexually stimulating and fascinating, too.
"The Nemo science museum in Amsterdam has Agony videos on permanent display for teen sex education, which we think is fantastic," says Lawrence. "It worries me that so many adolescents get their sex education from bad porn and I hope we're reaching a young audience who can discover the beauty of orgasm, and appreciate the ultimate pleasure that is giving rather than receiving -- there is where Agony is the opposite of contemporary porn."
That said, many have discussed how Beautiful Agony's attempt to sidestep the objectification of individuals (both men and woman) is only reinforced by its intention to liberate them. Can't a face be considered a sexual tool, just as much so as a cock or vagina? What about a noise, a simple whimper of delight? As long as your sexual experience is being filmed (dare I say documented) for others, isn't that just porn? Which is to ask, how can you escape objectification when you're obviously reducing people to objects of desire, even objects of fascination?
Truth is, you can't. You can't avoid being objectified when it comes to sex. Anything with a body is going to become objectified one way or another. So why not explore that objectification and determine if there exists a healthy way of providing sexual release? Why not launch original sites like Beautiful Agony that describe with accuracy how erotic reality can be?
Maybe Beautiful Agony does objectify people with its new approach, and perhaps that makes their website in part pornographic, but so what? Of course we understand that the faces of agonees don't identify them in totality. In fact, that's part of the reason viewers suddenly notice the person, because we sense that there must exist something behind this body to react so naturally, so freely, so dramatically to the orgasm. They aren't faking, they can't fake such real reactions. Porn, erotica, or art, bottom line is that Beautiful Agony is a monumental step in finally reestablishing the human substance behind the orgasm.
What does Beautiful Agony mean for the porn industry?
Turns out intimacy is the new porn. As mentioned earlier, Beautiful Agony is definitely opening the doorway into new sexual territory and undoubtedly raising the bar on erotic content. Obviously, we want reality. Just take the upsurge in amateur sites and communities like xtube.com as evidence. In fact, we crave reality.
As this craving is strengthened and reinforced by our evolving, human desire for genuine connection, the porn industry will need to change, at least in part. No longer will the scripted dialogue and the fake orgasms that ultimately paint a two-dimensional picture of the sexual experience plague our future. Imagine, porn with rich, compelling characters! Hot, kinky and compelling intellectually, think of the possibilities!
Imagine a new world of the future, where pornographic scenes, erotic imagery and sound, strange fetishes even, are all unified under one supreme principle of respect and individuality. Wouldn't it be so hot if the orgasm once again became an expression of self and human connection, perhaps even genuine love? Just the thought of a visual medium meant to explore and develop (and perhaps reevaluate) our chemical attraction to one another, how arousing, how utterly beautiful?
Just like art, neither hardcore porn, nor the exploitive principles on which it's based will ever completely disappear from our society, but really, there's no competition here. In fact, many of the agonees discuss their porn preference within the confessions. Porn can be hot sometimes, but that doesn't mean that erotica like Beautiful Agony isn't. Humans, as sexual beings, have moods, all of which call for different stimulus, different strokes.
However, the unique and redeeming quality that sets Beautiful Agony apart from other pornographic sites and amateur communities is their focal point, their muse, specifically the orgasm. Through exhibiting this common, yet private sexual act, their videos reveal human beings instead of actors and actresses, their videos encourage learning and experimentation and respect, their videos remind us that sex can also be an expression of emotions and heartfelt desire. The real question is: How will pornography grow and evolve now as a result of Beautiful Agony?
What does Beautiful Agony mean for people?
Kink doesn't mean perverse, just like hipster doesn't mean sub-humanoid. What Beautiful Agony offers us modern individuals is ultimately the support to express our unique sexuality in an adult, respectful way. Watching real people enact and discuss their sexual nature, be it straight, homosexual or bisexual, really helps others explore and enrich their sexual lives without hesitation.
Simply put, seeing actual vulnerability and real nudity makes us less afraid to connect with others in a sexual way that's both healthy and mature. What better way to connect humans than with the one experience to which everyone can relate: the orgasm? It's only natural after all, just like breathing and eating are natural, and the ideal reinforced by Beautiful Agony is that sharing your most personal identity, whether sexually in bed or socially in conversation, can one day become natural, too.
O-faces can be intense, o-faces can be comical, o-faces can even scare us, but in a world populated with people who rely so heavily on the veneer of things, Beautiful Agony uproots the whole concept of sexual connection. It goes deeper than clothes, deeper still than physique. No longer is the orgasm a simple involuntary hiccup or sneeze, but rather a conscious decision to share a piece of ourselves with others.
Beautiful Agony shows the depth and resilience of our generation. While previous thinkers and conservatives have sought to logically reduce sexual expression and the orgasm to its baser elements, we seek to learn from the different sexualities and, in doing so, deepen our respect for one another. Without a doubt, the walls around sexual freedom are crashing, the blockade encircling our distinctive fetishes are collapsing, in no small part due to Beautiful Agony and its principles of individuality.
Twenty years from now, who knows how the collective attitude toward sex will change? Unfortunately, there's no crystal ball to gauge any websites influence. But really, there's only one thing you need to consider to glimpse the impact of Beautiful Agony humanity. Simply image a camera filming your most private moments, maybe masturbating with the thought of a previous lover, maybe wrapping a gift all alone, maybe even trembling with nervous energy as you dial the phone number of that certain someone for the first time, whatever the case, your video will capture your vulnerability, your nudity, the real you. Ask yourself, do you know that person? Are you in touch with that individual's desires and emotions? And can you share that person's hopes and dreams and sexuality with the rest of us without flinching?
My Confession: What I've Learned from Beautiful Agony
That there is a face value to people. That the face can be just as sexual as a naked body, perhaps even more so, because the face is a mystery to everyone. It's the first thing we see, the first thing we recognize, it's casually plastered all over Facebook and MySpace after all, and yet the face holds the potential to expression our deepest personal feelings, be them sadness, happiness, shame, pride, excitement, anxiety, or even curiosity. What a wonder?
Before my subscription to Beautiful Agony, I might have been guilty of approaching a woman based solely on her physique. Of course there's nothing particularly wrong with that raw chemical attraction, the urge to touch, sweat, bite, and climax with someone who boils your blood. But then I started to wonder: what if you can connect with someone physically and emotionally, what then? How powerful can an orgasm become when completely linked to another individual, mind and body? Just the thought weakens my knees and fills my stomach with long forgotten butterflies.
Post-Beautiful Agony, and I can feel the changes inside me. Nowadays, almost instinctively, instead of checking out someone's ass as they walk toward the doorway or trying to flirt by caressing a shoulder, I'm hypnotized by eyes, I'm seduced by the fantasy of a deep conversation about music and sex coming from soft, luscious lips. Of course I knew that all along, and of course those playful shoulder caresses continue even today, but Beautiful Agony reminded me that a unique person inhabits the body of my desire, their face being a reflection of their individuality. Intelligence or creativity can be hot, just as lips or breasts can be hot. Why separate these attributes instead of embracing them all? Why not shed all your inhibitions as well as your clothing the next time you're headed to the bedroom? Filmed or not, you can appreciated a whole person sexually, just as others can value you, out there, uncensored, risking emotional pain and bad sex, totally naked.